Vaqueros take down Ragin’ Cajuns for third straight win

NATHANIEL MATA | STAFF WRITER

EDINBURG — The University of Louisiana women’s basketball team seemed like it couldn’t miss in the early going Saturday night against UTRGV at the Fieldhouse.

Once they cooled off, it was the Vaqueros who took over and took off for a 75-60 victory, their third in a row.

UTRGV ended the night shooting 45.2 percent from the field to bury the Ragin’ Cajuns. Point-guard play was key and Amarah Graham was the locksmith.

The redshirt sophomore had seven assists for a third straight game. On Saturday, she only had one turnover, a big improvement over the six giveaways she had Friday in a close victory over Prairie View A&M. She also had 13 points.

“We have a goal of 12 or fewer turnovers each game,” Graham said. “It starts with handling the ball and wanting the ball, taking care of it. Secondly, just putting players in the right positions. I trust in my teammates, I know they can knock it down.”

At halftime, UTRGV held a 36-33 lead, but Louisiana had made 14 field goals to RGV’s 12. The Ragin’ Cajuns first quarter was clinical. They made their first seven shots and first two free throws before finishing the quarter 9 for 14.

“We had a few blunders on our scouting report and left a couple of their big-time shooters open,” UTRGV coach Lane Lord said. “After those few five minutes, I couldn’t be happier with the way we played defensively.”

The Vaqueros had two steals and three blocks. Their big advantage again came on the glass; they grabbed 49 total boards (34 defensive, 15 offensive) compared to UL’s 27.

Madison Northcutt had 13 alone.

Eventually, UTRGV found their stroke from the field. For a second straight game, Idil Turk had a 13-point performance. Her coach admired her ability to drive to the hole when defenses try to limit her patented deep shot.

“No. 1, she’s not settling for the three,” Lord said. “Like Krissy said when they come out on her she’s got that great first step so she’s getting to the basket and she’s finishing. I think that part of her game is so valuable to our team.”

“It goes back to just playing team ball,” Graham said. “We shared the ball great tonight. It just came down to getting out in transition and finding open shooters.”

Five different shooters made a three-point field goal Saturday. The deep shots weren’t reserved for the guards as Quynne Huggins and Krisynthia Sampson had matching, 2-for-5, stat lines from beyond the arch.

Huggins had 12 points and eight rebounds while Sampson had 14 points, six boards.

“It gives me the upper hand because either I can shoot it or go to the rack,” Sampson said. “Either they’re going to play me high and I can go right by them or they are going to play off me and I let it fly.”

Next up for the Vaqueros is a Tuesday date with Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. UTRGV will have to travel out of the friendly confines of the Fieldhouse in Edinburg for the first time since a 74-70 loss to UMass.

RGV lost to Corpus in the first South Texas Showdown matchup of the season Nov. 12. Lord says his team has grown since their second game as a unit.

“I think we’re growing as a team,” Lord said. “We’re starting to not only play better as a team but I think we’re starting to trust each other better. For these seniors, I know it’s important for us to go up to Corpus and really have a great showing.”

nmata@themonitor.com